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Team Tests 150-ton Magnet In Japan

Team Tests 150-ton Magnet In Japan

MIT engineers and colleagues from Japan and the United States reported that a 150-ton magnet, significant to fusion energy research, has passed its initial operating test.

The magnet, located in Japan, produced a magnetic field 260 times more powerful than that of the Earth, at 13 tesla, with a stored energy of 640 megajoules at a current of 46,000 amperes.

Two modules make up the magnet: one designed and built in the United States, the other in Japan. Dr. Raghavan Jayakumar, a visiting scientist at MIT, spearheaded the U.S. magnet program. The magnet was built by engineers from MIT, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and the Lockheed Martin Corporation, the prime industrial contractor. The two modules were combined last year in Naka, Japan.

Joseph V. Minervini, principal researcher at MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC) and Department of Nuclear Engineering, said, “It’s the world’s most powerful pulsed superconducting magnet.” The researchers seek to demonstrate “superconducting performance parameters” and manufacturing methods for larger magnets planned for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), whose goals include demonstrating the feasibility of nuclear fusion as an energy source.

Perhaps the most noteworthy result of the initial testing was the stability demonstrated by the magnet while charging to full capacity. No training or quenching was required, common procedures in the early operation of other superconductors.

According to the researchers, future testing will involve trying to increase the speed at which they can charge up to 13 tesla and discharge.

-- Georgia Pangiotakis